By Josh Saunders
This is the heart-warming moment three South American fur seals gleefully race back into the sea after recovering from dangerous malnutrition and eye treatment.
The marine mammal trio were rescued between in the waters surrounding Buenos Aires, Argentina, spent nearly a month recovering from the ailments.
After being take in by the Mundo Marino Foundation, two of the seals were found to have extreme malnutrition and worryingly low weights.
The third had an injury to its fin and also an inflamed eye from infection following a suspected attack – that required painkillers and anti-inflammatories.
After deworming, further treatment and positive evaluations the seals were finally ready for this week (April 29).
As the team opened the travelling cages for the sea-dwellers, they eagerly bound towards the water.
With one casting a final warm glance back and appearing to wave at the rescuers at Dock Sud, the juveniles, known scientifically as Arctophocaaustralis, vanished out of sight.
Hiram Toro, 37, operational coordinator of the Mundo Marino Foundation Park, said: “It is always comforting to see that an animal is strong and health to go back to its habitat.
“That means we have fulfilled is our purpose. That is, work for the conservation and wellbeing of endangered marine species.
“To detect if he had any type of ocular lesion, we proceeded to perform a fluorescein test, which consists of placing a reagent in the eye that shows where there might be a corneal ulcer or wound.
“It is difficult to know the exact cause. It would not be prudent to say that the cause was human.
“The important thing here is that we could attend and heal that eye.
“Every seal of this species that enters the Center is hydrated first with water and then with a liquid formula.
“This protocol is vital because we do not know if there is any obstruction, for example with plastic, or gastric lesions that could complicate the animal’s health.
“Giving him something solid directly could worsen the dehydration situation by generating vomit or diarrhea.”
The Mundo Marino Foundation preserve wildlife through conservation projects in Argentina and educational efforts to help mobilise a more responsible society.
It has worked for the past 40 years to rehabilitate and release sick or injured marine animals back into the ocean.
They recommend to anyone concerned about a wild seal or other sea creature to seek help from professionals rather than attempting to capture or help the animal themselves.
Gastón Delgado, from the Mundo Marino Foundation rescue team, said: “The most important thing, when a person meets a wild animal on the beach, is to contact us.
“They are wild animals that, although they may have some disease, will use all their energies to defend themselves.
“It is important to know that, in the case of sea lions, if they go out to the beach, it does not always mean that the animal is sick.
“Another case may be that of a senile wolf, who goes to the beach to die. In any case, it is essential not to disturb it.
“We know that it can impact, especially for those who are not used to seeing them, but for the welfare of them, the most important thing is to leave them alone and call the specialized authorities.”
For more information visit: www.mundomarino.com.ar